We had always understood that Granddaddy Strickland had been admitted to the Masonic Oxford Orphanage because his daddy was a Mason. As I reread the Oxford documents and surfed the ‘net I could find no reason to believe that was accurate. In fact the Mason signing the letter of recommendation was a William F. May, Secretary of the Central Cross Lodge, No. 187, Franklin County, North Carolina. Said W. F. May turns out to be Laura May Coppedge’s brother. Laura Coppedge was Virginia Ann Elizabeth Coppedge Strickland’s mom, and was the individual who orchestrated the children’s living arrangements after Sidney and Virginia (Bettie)’s deaths just 3 weeks apart in February of 1897. The application to the orphanage was started in November of 1897, witnessed by William May, and approved by the Master Of the Lodge, W. A. Moose, who stated that the “child, with proper training, its future is bright.”
In June 1898 William F. May, Secretary, wrote this letter from Spring Hope, NC to the Superintendent of Oxford Orphan Asylum, Oxford, NC.
Dear Sir and Bro, Enclose you find application for James Ricks Strickland its contents you can see.
The children has a small farm unincombered rents for about $90.00 per year. Those that have to look after and care for the children are willing that the income of said place should go eqully apportioned to the several children but the administrator of said estate has no power he claims to thus distribute the income if this is not the information your count wants please inform us and we will give all at once if in our power.
We deem this a worthy application and trust you give it your careful attention.
They have no relatives that are able to care for them. Done in open Lodge, by order of the WM The day and date above written.
Witness my hand and seal
WF May Sec of Central Cross Lodge No. 187
From the contact I have had with Strickland descendants, there is a bit of mystery as to why no Strickland relatives came forward to help with the children. But that is another story……